Earlier this week you were challenged to remove all trans fats from your kitchen. How’s that going? Running into any problems? Wondering who I am, what I’ve done with Katie and what I’m talking about? Hint – it’s all in this week’s Monday Mission. Follow the Baby Steps board on Pinterest by clicking HERE.
There’s a reason why I refer to our food choices and nutrition decisions as a “journey.” It’s not an overnight transformation. It has taken me months to get this far and I’m still very much a beginner. It will take years to undo the wrong rules and bad food that are so deeply ingrained. Quite honestly, it will probably take the rest of my life.
I don’t say this to discourage you by any means. On the contrary, I’m here today to offer encouragement to both new real foodies and old. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others who appear to do more. Those who soak every grain and don’t dare touch a trans fat with a ten foot pole just seem to always do it the right way. Let me share with you one lesson that I’ve learned that trumps all the other baby steps: you must give yourself grace.
Take this week’s mission for example. It sounds easy enough, right? Read the label, check for those terms and throw the stuff away if they’re listed. Easy peasy.
Trust me – drawing those hard lines are not always as easy as it seems. I’ve scoured my kitchen high and low TWICE and hydrogenated oils still seem to seep through the cracks.
And even if you’ve managed to get your kitchen – and keep your kitchen – 100% trans fat free, there’s still temptations to give in to this stuff when you’re at the store. It’s easy to turn your back on those crunchy, salty potato chips (most of the time). But trans fat hides in food that even real foodies consider “normal.” Imagine this scenario.
You’ve invited company over for dinner tonight and chicken enchiladas are on the menu. You shredded the chicken and cheese yesterday and the sauce is ready on the stove. Tummies are rumbling and you’re all set for that minute clean-sweep of the house, just as soon as you roll up the enchiladas in the tortillas… TORTILLAS?! That’s the moment when the light bulb goes off.
You forgot to make homemade tortillas, and with guests arriving in 30 minutes, there’s certainly no time to make them now.
You rush to the nearest grocery store (because the health food store is definitely too far this late in the game) and start reading the labels on the dozens of tortillas on the shelf.
And wouldn’t you know, every single package of tortillas has some sort of trans fat listed.
Given your knowledge of trans fats, you certainly don’t want to buy them, but company is coming and they’re expecting dinner (as is the rest of your family).
Are you no longer on the “right” road to eating healthy if you buy these tortillas? Will you undo all the hard work you’ve put in thus far by caving into enchiladas?!
Absolutely not, on both accounts. You’ve simply found yourself stuck between a rock (real food) and a hard place (real life) – and this corridor is tough to maneuver.
It’s important to keep the long-term goal in mind when making this trek. There are times when there will be no real food alternative. You will find yourself arguing with yourself over tortillas or jelly or some other random item at the store, debating between needing it and wanting it. (Try to keep that conversation to a whisper so other patrons don’t think you’re too crazy, mkay? )
Your journey will not be perfect, and there may be poor decisions along the way, but don’t let a bad decision deter you from the greater goal of eater healthier and more nutritious food. We’re nourishing our bodies so we can live longer, healthier lives without having to rely on corrupt doctors or medicine, so we can properly fight toxins and harmful pathogens hidden in our meals. Continue to move forward, don’t stop challenging the food “norms” and most importantly – do not give up.
So then what choices are we left with when we feel forced into a situation like the above? Honestly, this situation DID happen to me. I sucked it up, bought the tortillas and continued with dinner as planned.
Did I want to eat trans fat? Did I want to knowingly feed it to my family and my friends?! Of course not, but considering I’ve rid my kitchen of every other trans fat known to me, one package of tortillas wasn’t going to be the end of the world.
We’ve jumped in with two feet and we’re in it for the long haul, right? One package of tortillas is merely a bump in the road – a small exception, if you will.
However, it’s important that we not allow exceptions to become the norm. While a small amount is certainly better than a large amount, consuming trans fat is still not good for our bodies. Ideally we should not be eating them at all, and “none” is the amount we should continuously be reaching towards.
Instead, incidents like the above should be considered opportunities for growth. Maybe I need to learn to meal plan better. (Next week’s topic – perfect!) Or perhaps find a store that offers tortillas without trans fat. At a minimum, it means that I need to learn how to transform chicken enchiladas into something else (chicken casserole? chicken soup?) without breaking out in a cold sweat.
I firmly believe that even a little bit of progress in the right direction is still progress. So you eat those tortillas tonight. Next time you won’t. You’ll be better educated on the topic of hidden trans fat and more equipped to make a healthier decision next time.
Serve up a big, hefty scoop of grace with your enchiladas and know that the journey is long and full of turns. Just when we think we’ve mastered trans fat, there will be another unsafe chemical right around the corner.
In short, there will be plenty of other opportunities to choose to not eat tortillas.
What about you? Given where you are in your quest, what would you have done in this situation?
Katie’s answer: I almost don’t want to jump in since I might squash good conversation in the comments, but I can’t help it. My new eBook, due out Jan. 22nd, is all about remaking your family favorites to fit real food. I’ve taken requests from readers and reverse engineered dozens of recipes.
Along the way, a few tricks I’ve picked up include how to make something gluten free and how to make something faster, like a one-pot meal instead of a casserole that uses two pots as well. For chicken enchiladas with the sauce already made, I’d say there are two easy options:
- buy corn tortillas – many of them have questionable ingredients too, but I’d choose an industrial oil (corn, canola) over a trans fat if that’s the only choice I had. Sometimes you can find “clean” corn tortillas, much easier than flour. BUT – they taste markedly different, and not everyone likes them. I’m one of those people.
- That’s why when I made enchiladas for the book, I did them two ways: the photo above shows homemade flour tortillas, and below you can see the enchilada mixture “over rice.” I baked it to melt the cheese, but you wouldn’t have to.
“Over rice” has become one of my favorite ways to serve all sorts of foods that used to be time-consuming to put together or simply gluten-filled. Rice is easy, and even the process for soaking brown rice is super simple.
So for me, I’m too stubborn to run out to the store in the middle of cooking. I probably would have chosen “over rice” – white, since brown takes too long to cook. White rice may not be as nutritious as brown, but it’s less evil than trans fat.
Sometimes sticking to your guns is about thinking outside the box or choosing the lesser of the evil compromises.
Thanks, Tiffany, for a great conversation starter! What other situations do you readers run into where you feel “stuck” on real food?
You will not want to miss a moment of this series – catch the previous posts right HERE and be sure to sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed to continue following along. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.
Tiffany is a newbie real food eater who is trying to master and incorporate nourishing foods into her kitchen without breaking the bank. She documents her baby-sized strides at DontWastetheCrumbs.
If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.